Great Northern Conference 2021: date, venue, speakers and how to buy tickets

The North’s premier thought leadership event will debate how to build a greener, fairer and more equal future when it returns for a third time - and with its biggest audience yet.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 8:39 am

The Great Northern Conference brings together key politicians, business leaders, media and influencers and will be hosted by Gamal Fahnbulleh, anchor with Granada Reports, ITV’s award-winning news programme for the North West.

It is at Sheffield’s opulent Cutlers’ Hall on Thursday October 28 and will be streamed across JPI Media’s digital platforms.

The landmark event, organised by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership JPI Media, is a ‘must attend’ for those who want to influence the region’s direction as it rebuilds in a post Covid-19 landscape.

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Some of the expert speakers at the Great Northern Conference

Some of the biggest names in the North are backing it, including four metro mayors: Tracy Brabin, Andy Burnham, Dan Jarvis and Steve Rotheram.

Also attending:

CLARE BAMBRA, Professor of Public Health, Newcastle University

KEN COOPER, British Business Bank

Host Gamal Fahnbulleh, anchor with Granada Reports, ITV’s award-winning news programme for the North West.

HANNAH DAVIES, Head of External and Public Affairs for the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA)

SUE FERNS, Deputy General Secretary at Prospect

PROF SUSAN LEA, University of Hull

ANNE LONGFIELD CBE, Former Children’s Commissioner for England

BRUCE HEPPENSTALL, Plant Director, Drax Group

BEN MORGAN, Research Director, AMRC

MALCOLM MORLEY, Chair, Radioactive Waste Management

THARA RAJ, Director of Public Health, Warrington Borough Council


JAMIE REED, Head of Corporate Affairs, Sellafield Ltd

KATY SHAW, Director of Cultural Partnerships, Northumbria University

DAN SMITH, Director of Energy Services, Northern Gas & Power

SARA WALKER, Director of the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration

The headline sponsor is telecommunications giant Huawei, who will be backing the digital session.

Additional sponsorship is set to come from power firm Sellafield for the education and skills session, and Drax which is supporting the Net Zero Future Session.

There are also breakout session sponsorship from Hermes for the Investment and Development Session, Radioactive Waste Management for the sustainable infrastructure session, Northern Gas & Power for the energy session and the Northern Health Science Alliance for the health session.

Additional support comes from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and Be the Business.

Victor Zhang, senior vice president with Huawei, said: “Huawei has been supporting the UK’s digital infrastructure for 20 years, our technologies keep communities connected and ensure that no one is left behind by bringing super-fast internet and connectivity across the country.

"Huawei helps level up the UK by directly and indirectly supporting many jobs and providing digital skills training – last year, Huawei supported over £571m in contribution to the GDP in the North of England with more than 9,900 direct and indirect jobs.

“We are pleased to join the Great Northern Conference discussion in support of the Government’s levelling up agenda.”

The outcomes from the event will be documented in a special report published across the JPI Media portfolio.

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “Every year the Great Northern Conference offers business and civic leaders from across the North a chance to come together to discuss priorities and shape policy ideas.

“This year that will mean addressing the fallout from the pandemic, including tackling the huge learning loss in northern schools as well as building a stronger economic recovery across our towns and [email protected]